Through our local partners, AAPk organized the workers and mobilized them for their right to social protection. The workers were empowered through various trainings on rights awareness, campaigning and advocacy. They were also linked with worker unions, like-minded civil society organizations and labor unions for their collaborative struggle.
Through persistent efforts, the workers achieved many millstones such as an increase in wage rate, allotment of residential land for housing colony, registration of un-registered workers, scholarship for their children, EOBI and health cards.
54 years old Muhammad Ramzan, a gypsum quarry worker says,
“I lost one of my children (19 years old) while he was working in an unsafe gypsum quarry.
It was a terrible jolt which shook our lives badly. However, on the other hand, it was also for the first time that a case was registered on my complaint.
A government official visited the site of the accident. The labour inspector directed the lessee to deposit Rs200, 000 as security with the exchequer and complete the procedure regarding payment of death grant.
In the aftermath of my four years long struggle, I received death grant of Rs.500,000. Though it cannot bring me back my child, yet I wanted to set precedence for others”.
The workers were empowered through capacity building trainings, seminars, training workshops and different participatory tools for networking, lobbying and holding government accountable to fulfill their rights by delivering quality public services.
The capacity building process was reinforced by mass awareness-raising sessions on the issues related to governance by using the community FM radios, seminars, and the action oriented engagement of the groups with concerned authorities.
“I am so happy that our dreams are finally coming true. There were days when we could not think of living a decent life.
We were deprived of almost all basic necessities of life. Thanks to European Commission, ActionAid and Bhandar Sangat (BS) that brick kiln workers were now registering success in the struggle to realize their basic rights.
Now many of us are entitled to SESSI cards, death grants and above all we are united to ensure change in our lives”, says 55 years old Siddique from Mirpur khas.
By making sensitization and awareness processes more inclusive, women, youth, and excluded groups were enabled to enhance their rights awareness and to monitor actively the status of public services. These priority groups / networks hold the government accountable and influence public service provisions in the decentralized government context.
The main challenges were the hurdles created by the permanent mine and sanitary workers communities who despite being less in number have been enjoying the major chunk of facilities available for the workers. They have mistakenly taken the newly registered union of mineworkers as their competitor. They tried to politicize all the events organized by newly registered union of unregistered workers.
Another challenge was from the local opinion leaders who put resistance to inclusion of women rights activities. They propagated it as an anti-tradition action. Women are more enthusiastic, motivated and focused on the agenda of rights. They boldly take stand for the resolution of their issues. Public representatives and office bearers now give more attention to the actions/demands of women.
“ActionAid helped us to be organized. They made our women aware of their rights. They capacitated us on how to run an organization, whom to contact for rights’ realization and how to build connections with concerned departments and people.
On getting awareness, our community started holding meetings and discussing our issues.
Our foremost priority was to highlight our right to housing. In this regard, we started holding rallies and press conferences as we wanted our voices heard. We are feeling better off now.
Earlier there was no cleanliness around but now we are living in a better environment. I am happy that our struggle produced results. We have acquired land for housing”, says Sonia a member of sanitary workers’ community and a social activist from Muzaffarabad, AJ&K.